Rain   45.0F  |  Forecast »

Tips for Staying Connected to Your Teen Son

Bonding with kids gets trickier in adolescence, especially with a gender divide. Here are nine pieces of advice from a therapist.

"My life sucks, and I wish I was dead," cried my 11-year-old son. My mommy radar went into full alert.

That resulted in a fast trip to a psychologist, who reassured me my son didn't truly want to be dead; he wanted his problems to be. My son's issue was semantics – not being able to articulate what's wrong when he has a bad day.

The episode sent me searching for ways to connect with my son. I want him to feel comfortable telling me the good, bad and ugly.

In his book Staying Connected to Your Teenager, counselor Michael Riera, Ph.D. says, "The way to establish and maintain this connection is not as straightforward as the connections made during childhood. Now much is dependent on the creativity and perseverance of parents." Here's his advice.

1. Keep talking.

Boys in particular can be nonresponsive, which can dissuade many parents from starting conversations. Fight the urge to clam up when he doesn't engage, and know that he hears you even if he doesn't say anything.

2. Movies.

Go on a "date" to a film of his choice. Be enthusiastic and receptive, even if it's a genre you think you detest. This will give you a window into what he enjoys and, if you go out for a meal or treat after, you have an obvious topic.

3. Hugging and horsing around.

Establish physical connection, even if your son rebuffs you. It matters more than he lets on. Plus, humor is one of the best forms of communication for boys.

4. Move and talk.

Whether you are walking the dog together or riding in the car, the parallel interaction seems to open the channels more easily than face to face.

5. Hear him.

If your son does open up, probe only to clarify or get detail. Don't express your opinion unless he asks, or he'll stop talking. Let him tell you stories about his friends and Facebook banter.

6. Get off the bleachers.

It's great to be a cheerleader, but do your own activity, too. You're setting a good example of lifelong fitness and fun. Down the road, your son may even want to join you.

7. Open your home.

Let him invite his friends over, feed them, let them be loud and horse around. You connect more when you're the hub of his activities.

8. Share his interests.

Dip your toe into what's captivated him. Who knows what new activities you might enjoy?

9. Be direct

Boys do not like when you talk in code. Say what you mean.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

They're ditching 'mom' and 'dad' and putting parents on a first-name basis instead. What's the deal with this trend?

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

You've got the candy and other snacks ready, but what about the beverages? Well, add a cup of 'scary' to your Halloween party with help from Martha Stewart, Pillsbury and more.

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

Harness a bit of autumn for your kids' next creative venture by making this handy contraption. Note that a drill is required, so be sure mom or dad helps.

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Kids allergic to nuts, milk and more can look for pumpkins painted blue-green to find homes giving safe, non-edible treats, thanks to The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

So simple they're scary! Check out these three orange DIY projects in time for fright night – plus a cool Frankenstein handprint craft for good measure.

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

This Livonia landmark offers an alternative to the grocery store, selling 4,000 turkeys in just four days. Peek at our chat with the 'turkey lady'.

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Does your due date correspond with the holiday season? Here are some wise ways to enjoy the season with your newborn – and avoid unnecessary stress.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement